First page #WriteTips: Page One Blitz

Today, I’ve been asked to be a part of the Page One Blitz by the lovely Michelle at Freshly Squeezed. So, here they are: my tips for a strong first page.

It’s really no surprise that the first page of a book is of great importance. Whether you’re an agent, an editor, or even someone opening up the preview feature on Amazon, forming an opinion based on those first couple of paragraphs is something we all do. Hey; you’re probably doing it to me with this blog post right now!

I’m a hybrid-published author (which makes me sound like a mythical creature, but really just means I sell books as an indie author and through Escape Publishing, Harlequin’s Aussie digital imprint) and also an editor. It’s fair to say that I’ve seen a load of first pages in my time, and here are some things I’ve learnt that draw a reader in. Note, this is just my opinion. I’m one person, and this is by no means gospel, just my thoughts on things that I have found have helped make first pages I’ve read pop!

1. Nail that first sentence. Make it strong, make it bold. Write the sentence that would make you want to read more of the book. First impressions count. And whatever you do, don’t start it with waking up. Your book should open with action, not a bedroom. Unless the bedroom isn’t yours. Then, go right ahead!

2. Establish a sense of place. Location is important to the reader to help get our head around the concept of the scene. When we have a venue for your character, we’re grounded. We can connect with them on a basic ‘where’ level, and that’s essential if you want us to move on to character love in the future. It can also help us place the book in a genre from the get-go, something else that can be valuable.

3. Create a sense of importance/urgency. Is your story starting with action? With intrigue? With something at stake? If you didn’t at least think about answering yes to one of these, there’s a chance that your story is starting at the wrong place. Don’t softly tuck us into bed with your story — rip off the sheets so we’re exposed to it from the first word. Create a reason for us to keep reading. Do you need a ninja on your first page? Not necessarily, no. But at least give me a Siamese Fighting Fish …

Side view of a Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, isolated

Is this guy on your first page? Photo: Big Stock Photo

4. Make it shine. Polish it till the prose sings, the voice is hitting the high notes — and then do the same to every other page in your book. Because yes, first pages count, but if you have a bad page 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 … Well, even your first page can’t save you then.

The Page One Blitz is an opportunity for YA writers to win free critiques and find out further editing and writing information. Visit the Freshly Squeezed Reads Page One Blitz post to find out more and enter.


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